When Americans come to the end of their weekend, over 3/4's of us are depressed. The article went on to list 4 underlying psychological causes of this end of weekend depression: anxiety, guilt, comparison, and sadness. We are anxious about what the week ahead holds. We feel guilty about the tasks we left undone that we intended to complete this weekend. We look at everyone else's seemingly perfect weekend and consider our uneventful weekend a waste in comparison. We mourn the ending of another weekend. While the article does offer some helpful suggestions to combat the "Sunday Night Blues," it ultimately falls short of ridding us of our down and out attitude on Sunday evenings.
For the follower of Christ, our Sunday evenings should never be described as blue. The Christian should not sit at home on Sunday evenings with a sullen attitude. After all, Sundays are when we meet with God together in worship. Sundays are when He uses His word to shape and mold us. Sundays are when we feast at the table of Christ and are offered more than we need for the week ahead. Instead of depression, the Christian should be filled with joy and anticipation.
Joy Rather than Sadness or Dissatisfying Comparison
There can be no greater delight on earth than to delight in God. On Sunday, we have the opportunity to take concentrated time rejoicing in the Lord. There is not nor should there be any greater joy for the disciple of Christ than to relish His presence among His people. On Sunday, we sing of His manifold good and great characteristics. We rejoice to sing of the joy of His salvation wrought through Christ. It is this joy of salvation that Isaiah speaks of when he says:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
- Isaiah 61:10
The joy of the Christian is seated in God's character and His redemption! Instead of envious comparison with all the cool stuff our Facebook friends did this weekend, we can rejoice that God loves us in Christ. Instead of sadness at the end of the weekend, we can delight in the God of our salvation and look forward with anticipation at next Sunday,
Anticipation rather than Anxiety
Part of delighting in the Lord is delighting in all that He is. This reminds us that nothing that is going to happen in the week ahead is beyond the control of the God in whom we delight. There is no situation at work, with friends, with our finances, or with our possessions that God is not working after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11) and for our good (Romans 8:28). The Christian shouldn't view the upcoming week with trepidation and anxiety but with anticipation, looking to see how God will work in the upcoming days. We are called to be confident of God's working within us (Philippians 1:6). Why worry about Monday on Sunday when God holds Monday through Friday in His hands, working His good purposes, which can NEVER be frustrated.
Grace rather than Guilt
Finally, when we sit in the presence of God on Sunday, it is only by His grace that we can do so. It is only by His grace that we can know Him. Grace puts aside our shortcomings and, in Christ, brings us to God. There are always things in life in which I will fail, perhaps spectacularly. But God's grace is bigger than my failure. His grace overcomes my guilt. His grace shapes and molds me to be more like Him.
So, where do the "Sunday Night Blues" come from? Ultimately, they come when an individual's focus has been distracted from Christ to lesser things. Whats the cure for the "Sunday Night Blues?" Its found not in focusing on what the week ahead holds or on the missteps or regrets of the weekend gone by, but, rather, its found by focusing even more on the God in Whose presence we sat just hours before our Sunday evening. In Him is true joy, true reliance, true grace.
Immediately, when the NYSE opened, the market was down and, by the end of the day, the US markets saw a decline larger than any other on a single given day in the past several years. Friday evening and on through the weekend, media outlets were still abuzz at the news. How would this affect global markets going further. Would this hurt America's relationship with one of its closest allies? Are other countries considering an exit from the EU? Uncertainty abounded around the world.
Uncertainty will continue to abound. The "Brexit" vote is illustrative of a principle that has been proven over and over again. We don't know what tomorrow will bring! For the unbeliever, this causes worry, doubt, fear, dismay, and every other emotion of insecurity that plagues mankind. The thought that impactful events occur that are entirely beyond our control is terrifying. That is, it is terrifying to those who don't see Sovereignty at work.
Isaiah 40:15 tells us::
"Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust." (ESV)
And Daniel recounts how Nebuchadnezzar recognized God's Sovereignty when Nebuchadnezzar said:
"...for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?" - Daniel 4:34-35 (ESV)
While the world looks on at events like "Brexit" and sees the uncertainty of life, the Christian can look on and see God's Sovereign hand. And this gives us confidence! If we truly understand that God is "working all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11), then nothing is truly uncertain, in God's eyes. Everything has a God-given purpose. When things seem uncertain, we can replace fear with hope, worry with confidence, doubt with dependence!
This reality is important to keep in mind as we continue with our upcoming Presidential elections. Already, there is hand wringing. Already people are bemoaning the demise of America if their candidate does not reach the White House. Already, uncertainty is being played up to garner action and reactions from voters.
As a Christian, don't let the uncertainty game snatch you! God is in control, regardless of who leaves the European Union, or who becomes America's next President, All things are being worked by God after the counsel of His will. And that will is a good, righteous, and just will. I may not know what tomorrow brings, but God does! And that allows me to face tomorrow without fear!
If I were to ask your friends, family, and coworkers why you are the person you are, what would their answer be? Would it be because you are a "Christian" or because of what Christ has done in your life. Its very easy for us to fall into the trap of explaining our moral compass by our religious affiliation. The biblical explanation for a Christian lifestyle is not being a Christian, but having Christ!
It is easy for us, at times, to explain our actions by our Christianity. Why don't we indulge in the sinful lifestyles of the world? Well, because we are a Christian and Christian's don't do that! We often explain our abstinence from wickedness in these terms. While it is true that Christians should not go after the world in their pursuit of sin, that explanation is not enough! If we think that this simple explanation helps to proclaim the gospel (i.e. "lifestyle evangelism"), we are sorely mistaken.
The Christian's morals are not based on his Christianity. They originate from Christ! We do not follow the world in sin because Christ has saved us from that sin and is making us to be more like Him. This is the source of our difference from the world. Without Christ, Christianity is no different from any other moral religion.
Yet, I fear that we often explain our morals apart from Christ. We cling to "Christianity" as our religious affiliation. And so we act like a Christian. But those who hold to Judaism can act with the same morals and cling to their Judaism as the impetus for their moral life. The same can be said for the Buddhist or the Hindu. If the world understands us by our Christianity but have no concept of Christ, then we are not truly living and proclaiming the gospel.
The goal of the Christian life ought not to be a "good Christian" but as someone who has a good Christ! When people ask why we don't do the things they do, the answer must be because Christ is transforming our lives. Our religion has nothing to do with it. Our relationship with Christ is the difference.
The world knows that Christians are different. But do they know why? The Christian who truly lives to proclaim the gospel will not be satisfied in proclaiming his Christianity. He will want them to know the Christ of his Christianity. Lets show the world that we are the way we are, not because we are Christians, but because of Christ! This is how we keep Christ in Christianity.
As the cold hard reality of another tragic shooting began to settle in on the public conscience, politicians and pundits offered their explanations for this horrific event and provided suggestions for avoiding this horror going forward. Our nation has once again been pulled into a public discourse on what we can do going forward.
For the Christian, however, our path is already laid out for us. We do not need to appeal to experts, pundits, or politicians to find answers or responses to such tragedies. We need only look to God's Word. There are three main responses the Christian should have to tragedies like this. We must Trust God's Plan. Pray for God's Peace. Share the Hope found in Christ.
Events like these can shake us to the core. They produce doubt and uncertainty in our safety. They provoke us to find reasons for such senseless violence. They make us wary of others. They make us feel helpless. But there is hope beyond our helplessness. Its found in faith!
Faith in Christ provides us with a firm foundation in the midst of such acts. The believers life is hid with Christ. He is working all things for their good. Nothing can separate them from His love. They are held in the Father's hands! Their life is never uncertain. Their hope will never fail. Their God is never powerless.
Because such events rattle us to our very core, the very core of our being must be firmly entrenched with a confident trust in God. His power, plan, and care for me as His child gives me confidence, not fear! "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" - Psalm 118:6 (ESV)
Countless times we have heard news anchors parrot the predictable words: "Our hearts and prayers are with the victims." While this sentiment makes for good TV, it is often not truly practiced by those watching the events unfold. We use prayer today as a nice way of saying "I feel for you."
But however insincere these words may be, the reality is that prayer is exactly what victims of such tragedies need. Through prayer, we communicate the grief of our hearts to God. Through prayer, we can ask our loving King to offer comfort and strength to those affected. Through prayer, we can call upon our Savior to introduce Himself to those who may not know Him but need Him desperately. He is the almighty Lord. He is the God of all comfort. He is the Savior who can sympathize with our pain.
We can feel so helpless to offer any assistance to those reeling from the loss of loved ones or recovering from their own injuries, yet we can do something tangible to help them. We can pray. God hears and answers prayer. Jesus prayed for Peter. Paul prayed for those who suffered. We are called on to pray for others. Praying for God to intercede in the lives of these victims is the right response to such hateful actions.
As we head to work, interact with our family and friends, or even strike up conversations with strangers while we wait in line to order coffee, this subject will doubtless come up. People will be talking about their own fears and insecurities about such violence. They will likely look to soothe their worried hearts by looking to the government or societal action to allay their fears. They will want laws, policies, and procedures developed to stop this from happening in the future.
The sum of these resp0nses will show a reliance on man to fix the problems of evil we encounter in the world. As Christians, we can offer something that is supremely better!
Instead of joining in the chorus of voices calling for civic action and political change, we can share the unflinching hope we have in Christ. Mankind's greatest efforts to curb evil will only, always fall short. But Christ will never fall short. As we demonstrate stalwart hope in Christ when tragedies befall the world we live, we have the opportunity to share with others the good news that they can also have this stalwart hope thorough faith in Christ. Instead of wringing our hands in frustration, we can lift those hands confidently toward God, and show the world what it means to trust Him in the midst of tragedy. Sharing our Faith with a hurting world offers hope beyond the current pain.
So how should we react at such tragedies. Shock, despair, and worry do not reflect the hope we have in Christ. Through our confidence in Christ, intercession for others, and proclamation of the hope we have in Christ, we can display real hope! And real hope, hope found in Christ, is exactly what the world needs most!
Helpful Links on this Tragedy from a Christian Worldview:
We all have trouble in our lives. It comes in many forms, but, regardless of the form, it can plague us. And this trouble can psychologically affect us. We begin to worry and despair. Anxiety and doubt cloud our thinking, dominate the hours of our days, and escalate to the point where we can no longer function. When we let the trouble we encounter trouble our hearts, it can render us motionless in life, seemingly useless.
But there is hope in our trouble, and it is found in Christ. In John 14, Jesus encourages his disciples with a command "Let not your hearts be troubled." But Jesus is not just saying "Stop being troubled." He gives us an alternative to troubled hearts. That alternative is Faith! Christ calls on his disciples to place their faith in Christ. "You believe in God, believe also in Me." Jesus commends faith to combat troubled hearts.
Our circumstances trouble us because our faith is misplaced. Take the example of being troubled at a downturn in the stock market. If we are trusting in our investments to provide financial security, then it is no wonder that when those investments suffer, our confidence in our financial security also suffers, leaving us biting our nails every time we look at the market's conditions. If the thing I am trusting in fails, then worry, doubt, and despair are bound to crop up in my life.
This is why Christ asks us to trust in Him instead of being troubled. Faith in Christ is a sure thing. He will never fail! Instead of leaving us with doubt or worry, faith in Christ grants us confidence. Trusting in Christ is the only hope for troubled hearts. So instead of trusting in my financial investments, my trust is in Christ, who promises to provide all I need. When we replace the trouble of our hearts with faith in Christ, our hearts can rest, confident in our Christ, who will never fail us!
So if you find your heart troubled today, look at your faith. Replace your confidence in broken things with confidence in Christ!
In John 13, we see a stark contrast between Christ and fallen mankind. Chapter 12 shows us that Christ is supremely worthy of all glory, but the shocking thing about chapter 13 is that this supremely glorious Christ stoops down and washes the filthy feet of His disciples. It is the ultimate act of humility and it dispels any pretension that the believer is above any act of service. Christ displays ultimate humility by serving others.
Then, John turns to show us Judas, a man whose name immediately evokes thoughts of betrayal and deceit. The thing is, Judas acted out of a motivation for self-interest. He put his own desires above that of his friends. While we rightly condemn Judas' actions as truly despicable, the sobering reality is that the same heart attitude pops up inside us all from time to time. We, like Judas, follow our own self-interest above all else and sometimes at the cost of others.
The striking thing about John 13 is this night and day contrast between what motivated Christ and what motivated Judas. Christ, who was worthy of all things, served. Judas, who deserved nothing, exalted himself at all costs. Thankfully, Christ never fell into sinful self-service. He served with an upright heart. And that righteousness can be ours through faith in Him alone. But that faith changes us. With such contrasting motivations on display in John 13, our desire should be to have Christ's heart and not a self-serving heart like Judas. What heart attitude do you find when you examine your own heart? Lets continue to contrast the day from the night as we serve one another for the glory of God.
The Quill and the Sword is the blog of Pastor Phil Golden Jr. The quill represents the writings of the author and the sword is the Word of God. This blog is committed to producing engaging articles that are biblically based. The painting above is Eugene Siberdt's Martin Luther Translating the Bible.